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Pointers along the way #283

An issue of compatibility
- Jacob Ninan

I think this could be politically incorrect these days. Yet I hope that it might help someone somewhere.

God warns in His word believers not to be unequally bound (yoked) together with unbelievers (2Co.6:14,15). This doesn't mean that believers should not meet, work with, or make friends with unbelievers, but that we should not get into a 'binding' relationship with them. Typical examples are marriage and business partnerships. If a business partnership doesn't work out, we can break away, even if it is with great difficulty. But a marriage is binding for life. It would be foolish to get into it impulsively and regret it all through life. Many people who ignore this warning and get married to unbelievers discover later that it was one of the biggest mistakes they made in their life, when they face conflicts of value, principles, approach and strategy in decisions they have to make.

Many believers say when they consider marriage, "If the other person is a believer, then it's all right." Is that enough? That is to go strictly according to the letter and miss the point of God's warning. The issue is one of unequal yoking. Even believers can be unequal! One can be a fervent disciple of Jesus and the other can be a pleasure loving, worldly minded person. One can be a legalistic Christian and the other open minded, one ritualistic and the other informal. When we think of the quarrels within and among different believing churches, we understand that just believing is not enough.

Psychologists know that a large part of our personality is made up of things we have learned in our growing days, and another part from the temperament we have inherited through the genes. This makes each one of us unique; but at the same time this can cause big conflicts in marriage because of clashes of personality, even when both spouses are born again believers. We also know that communication is the arterial system through which the lifeblood of marriages flows. If the spouses think and/or speak in different languages, we can imagine the potential sources of misunderstanding that can develop.

So what am I saying? That it is not enough to get married to believers; we also have to look at compatibility issues. We cannot glibly say that once we are born again all things are made new (2Co.5:17), because there is need for a slow and steady working out of this potential transformation; it is not sudden and automatic. Another point that comes up is that teenagers and other young people do not have the necessary knowledge or experience to be able to choose wisely. Isn't it better that they wait till they are a bit older to make this lifetime choice? Isn't it also good to seek the advice of mature people?

Of course one can point out many cases where everything worked out well in the end. For example, an unbelieving spouse got converted. Thank God for His mercy and grace. But does that mean that we can presume on His mercy and disobey His loving warnings?